Islam and Muslims are like Siamese twins or even like the snail and its shell. None of them can survive without being in the company of the other. There is nothing in the life of a Muslim that this divine religion called Islam does not touch. For instance, in Islam, travelling is not just a part of education. It is rather a form of education. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) realized this early in his prophet-hood years and emphasized it. He said: “Seek knowledge even if you will have to travel to China”.
At the time the world map, as it is today, had not been crafted, China was considered the farthest place from Arabia.
In accentuation of the Prophet’s instruction that Muslims should seek knowledge,even as far away as China, a renowned Arab poet came up with a stanza which translates thus: “There is no permanent, resting place for a sensible, learned person; therefore, move from city to city and adapt to any new environment in which you may find yourself; Travel out from your immediate environment and meet new contemporaries similar to those you may have left behind at your embarkation point; Interact with diverse people because human comfort and prosperity are mostly attainable through interactions…”
ISLAM’S REGARDS FOR TRAVELLERS
The respect which Islam accords travellers is such that they (travellers) are described as wayfarers in the Qur’an. And by virtue of their journey, Muslim travellers are not only permitted to reduce their four rakats of (Dhur, ‘Asr and ‘Ishai) to two rakats each, they are also excused from fasting while on journey (although they will make up for the missed fasts later). Not only that, they are also listed among the groups qualified to receive Zakah. The proviso, however is that such a journey must be justifiable and legitimate.
JOURNEY BY NECESSITY
Judging by the laid down proviso, as presented above, it becomes understandable that a Muslim journey in Ramadan must be one of necessity and not of mere pleasure.
The rule is that the journey must not be less than 48 miles or 80 kilometres. On such a journey, a Muslim traveller may break his fast and shorten his Salat. But that rule was formulated at the time when donkeys and camels were the means of travelling.
Today, when it is possible to travel from Lagos to Kano within one hour in a comfortable aircraft or from Ibadan to Lagos in a fully air -conditioned car, within the same period of one hour, it may rather be unnecessary to break the fast and reduce Salat especially when the traveller must make up for the broken fast after Ramadan.
There is hardly any rule without exception. The modern exceptions to the rule of travelling in Ramadan have transcended those of the donkey age.
However, this does not mean that any Muslim traveller in Ramadan who wishes to follow the primordial rule of the donkey years cannot shorten Raka’ats of his salat and break his fast. Nevertheless, if that rule is followed, the conditions surrounding it must equally be followed.
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